In Rochambeau

Seasoned For Taste

It might not be known (but it should be just in case you ever wind up dining at my crib) that I am not the greatest cook.  Sure I can cook and bake your basics and may even get away with winging it every now and then.  All in all, however, if you want recipes from me that rival your Aunt Pam, local trattoria or favorite resturant then I suggest you make reservations.  Some novices can be quite good at spontaneous last minute thrown-together meals and some make a mess out of it.  Some novices and be quite good at planned-out recipes followed to the tablespoon and others leave you digging in your bag for the Tums. 

Cooking is an art and like any art you have to understand your chosen tools in order to execute an inspired outcome.  For cooking its the cuisine, timing and ingredients, for life painting it's the hand to eye nurturing with proportion and for design its fit, fabric and aesthetic.  If your aesthetic for a particular season is influenced by world events, an era, foreign cultures or even the arts then the challenge becomes how to make the correlation understandable whether you're doing a vintage reproduction or a modernized reinterperation.  There's a fine line bewteen cohesive and costumery when a design is pulling inspiration from something else.  For me, a well executed meld of ideas in a collection has nuances of each idea without wholly referencing any to a tee.  The essence and mood that reawakens and reinvites our memory is cajouled.  This is what I found interestingly attractive about the Rochambeau Fall 2011 mens collection.

I first had the opportunity to speak with Joshua Cooper, one of the collaborators of Rochambeau along with Michael Venker and Laurence Chandler, at Capsule, a tradeshow in NYC in January.  There they previewed a few select pieces of Fall 2011 which I was told was influenced by 1920's-30's depression era clothing and the Japanese architect Kengo Kuma.  At first I thought, 'bit of a stretch?', but soon realized the references in controlled free-form cut, 'nature-esque' color and streamlined finishing had harmonious correlations to the two.

Touches of romanticism, elegance and suave tailoring meet modernism, sustainability and wabi-sabi.  Influence delves back and forth in this collection through the elegance of nipped shrunken blazers tailored masculinely yet drapable like a soft robe or blouse.  Touches of modernity were evident in layering effects while the wabi-sabi aesthetic was praised through tattered jersies reborn on jacket backs and trouser fronts.  There was a complex simplicity evident in Kuma's works and present in the collection through clever seaming on tonal color and by the continuous fluidity in the unforced lines of collars morphing into scarves.  Depression era romanticism showed up in clever shawl collars, the vibrant irridescent fabrics and the overall mood of trying to enlighten and enliven through a gradual avant-garde approach to dressing. 

There were a lot of things I took away in this collection but the most delightful thing had to be the intelligent mix of the beauty of construction with stahlwart artistic attempts all under the umbrella of tailoring.  The shadowing effect of trousers layered with similar fabric, the layers of jersey adding structure to jacket backs and the sagging beauty of a draped pocket were all things I could appreciate.  Meanwhile, the new life breathed into the initial macabre look of distressed and threadbare fabrics brought on a mood of organic luxury.

I like to celebrate a label who takes chances and succeeds in their attempts.  It's like asking the chefs to come out so you can thank them for your culinary experience.  Fashion, similarly like food, should pepper your body, spice your soul and feed your mind.

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